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All Health Professionals Need to Know About Your IBS

When you have IBS, certain health professionals have to know about your condition. Your family doctor is an obvious choice, since they’re usually your first point of call. A gastrointestinal specialist may be needed, depending on your personal requirements. And perhaps a dietitian or nutritionist, if you’ve got food intolerances or need to follow the low FODMAP diet.

But if you’re seeing a health professional about something that’s not related to your gut, do they need to know about your IBS? Maybe, maybe not. But here’s why should tell them anyway.

Other health conditions, or treatments for them, may affect your IBS

You probably know that there are many triggers for IBS and that almost anything seems to be able to set off a sensitive gut. When it comes to other health conditions, sometimes it’s the condition itself that’s the issue, but it can also be the treatment for that condition that affects your IBS.

For instance, illness causes physical stress on your body and may also cause mental stress and exhaustion. And stress is a major IBS trigger, regardless of the source of stress – it not just anxiety or worry that does it. Next there’s medications, which can have all sorts of effects other than for the reason they were originally prescribed. Unfortunately, gut effects are common side effects of many medications.

Non-medical treatments that could affect your IBS include dietary changes to help manage a medical condition. Although hopefully if you need that, you’d be working with a dietary specialist who could also consider your IBS. But another treatment that’s often not considered is exercise, which while essential for fixing some injuries, could potentially aggravate your gut.

The most important thing to understand is that while your body is comprised of many parts, they all need to work together for optimal function. So when one part isn’t working properly, it can affect other parts of your body too.

Which other health professionals should you tell and what do they need to know?

Medical professionals. Regardless of their specialty, all medical professionals should be told about your IBS because it may affect the treatments that they can recommend for you. So give them a brief overview of how your IBS affects you and any medications that you’re taking for it. They’ll then ask for more information if they need it.

Pharmacists. Pharmacists are particularly helpful when it comes to understanding and managing side effects of medications that may affect your gut. If you tell them what IBS does to your bowels (e.g. constipation, diarrhea or both), they can make suggestions to help you.

Mental health specialists. Since the brain and gut are very much interlinked, it makes sense to tell a psychologist or other mental health specialist about your IBS. For instance, if you get bowel urgency and diarrhea when you’re anxious, they can help you to work out strategies to prevent triggering those symptoms.

Physical therapists. While muscular injuries or problems may seem unrelated to your gut, the exercises that your physical therapist prescribes to fix your condition may impact your IBS. A good example is if they want you to activate or strengthen your core (abdominal) muscles, since these exercises can be aggravating to the gut. But if you explain your IBS to them, they can adapt the exercises so they’ll be less aggravating.

Other health professionals. This really depends on what you’re seeing them for and you’ll have to use your judgement. But there’s no harm in mentioning that you have IBS, particularly if you’re concerned or anxious about it being triggered. In this case, definitely ‘go with your gut’ and make sure that your needs are considered.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.